10 candidates vie to fill Sen. Dunleavy’s seat, as he resigns to run for governor

Matanuska-Susitna Borough Republicans are expected to finalize their short list of candidates to replace Sen. Mike Dunleavy in a meeting tonight.

On Sunday, the House District 9 and House District 10 Republican organizations announced 11 people (one of whom has since withdrawn) had applied to replace Dunleavy, whose resignation became effective today. Dunleavy told the Empire earlier this month that he is resigning to focus his attention on his campaign for governor.

The list of potential replacements includes Rep. George Rauscher, who represents House District 9, and the man he replaced in that seat, Jim Colver.

It also includes Valdez school custodian Tom Arts and Randall Kowalke, a Mat-Su Borough Assemblyman. Also on the list is Vicki Wallner, one of the moderators of the “Stop Valley Thieves” Facebook group. That group has avidly opposed the criminal justice reform bill known as Senate Bill 91. Wallner is the only woman among the 11 candidates for the Senate seat that covers districts 9 and 10.

The deadline for applications was 5 p.m. Sunday, and the Republican committees of the two House districts are expected to meet in Wasilla tonight to pick a short list of three or four candidates to forward to Gov. Bill Walker for consideration. All candidates had to be Republicans (because Dunleavy was a Republican) and had to meet the constitutional requirements for the position.

Under Alaska law, Walker has 30 days from Jan. 15 (the date of Dunleavy’s resignation) to pick one person from that short list for the seat. The selectee must then be confirmed by a majority of the Republicans sitting in the Alaska Senate.

Tuckerman Babcock, chairman of the Alaska Republican Party, will serve as chairman of the selection committee Monday night. In an email to the Empire, he provided the full list of 11 candidates:

• Tom Arts

• Bob Bickel

• Tom Braund

• Jim Colver

• Eddie Grasser

• Doyle Holmes

• Randall Kowalke

• George Rauscher

• Mike Showers (withdrew Monday morning)

• Todd Smoldon

• Vicki Wallner

The districts denied the application of Steve Menard for being incomplete.

If Rauscher is selected for the seat, the Republicans of House District 9 will repeat the process to select a replacement for Rauscher.

• Contact reporter James Brooks at james.k.brooks@juneauempire.com or call 523-2258.

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